AUGUST 13, Paris:

Four PM, and we are getting ready. The car is packed and parked a few doors up.

I sit at the table, smoking one of your cigarettes. I unwrap your two new pairs of stockings.

Me: I want to see you in these.

You, kissing me: After I get my wish.

Me, pocketing one, passing you the others: Alright then. But I get to put them on.

I stand up and we move toward the door together.

You: Ready?

Me: Ready.

You pull the door shut behind us, and we stand on the landing listening to the click of the elevator as it rises.

We squeeze inside, press for the ground floor, lurch downward. I brush your bangs to the side.

Me: Here we go.

You smile.

On the street, we are all business. I relax, hold my hand to your back, guide you back into the Musée Gustave Moreau, pay for our tickets.

We walk up the stairs to the second floor. A couple points and stage whispers at the artifacts on display in Moreau’s office.

We hold back, wait for them to move on. I pull on my new kid gloves. There is not a guard in sight.

You, scanning: Now.

I jump the barrier and enter Moreau’s study. In three steps, I am behind his desk.

I pull out the chair, crouch down, and disappear.

——

Five hours later, the sun sets. The museum is silent. My legs are an agony of cramps.

Beyond the wooden back of the office chair, I have studied a bronze bull on a marble plinth for an eternity.

I push back the chair and emerge from below the desk. A motorcycle on the street. Then calm.

I pull your stocking from my pocket. Bring it over my head. Then slip over the barrier and back into the museum.

My heart roars. I must trust what you’ve told me—that the museum is empty, without alarm.

I race up the stairs, three at a time. Plunge across the first gallery and up to the top floor.

Salome is there. Hovering, naked before Herod.

I open my knife. Watch the brushed steel bee on the head of its handle welcome the spine of the blade. Then I cut.

In less than a minute, Salome collapses before me on the floor, her frame displaying remnant canvas threads and the pink of the wall behind.

I close my knife, roll her up, turn to the window. My mouth is desiccated and I doubt I will ever manage the signal whistle.

The handle turns effortlessly. I push to open and the alarm SCREAMS.

No time. I step onto the cornice. Look at the gap between the museum and the roof of the next building and jump.

I hit and roll. Salome remains in my hand. The alarm squelch is deafening.

In a moment, I am back up and running to the base of the ladder that leads to our roof. Climbing. Ignoring the acrophobia.

At the final rung, I find your rope.

You, just above, face obscured by a stocking, reaching down to me, hissing: Hand me Salome. Hand me Salome.

I pause, shift my weight and bring the canvas up to you. You take it, disappear over the edge.

For a moment, I stand there suspended, immobilized. Police sirens mix with the alarm.

You, reappearing at the lip, urgency: Come on!

I tug on the rope and release the last rung of the ladder. Hoist myself up hand-over-hand. You pull at my clothes, drag me onto the roof.

I lie on my back, breathing hard. Then we drop through the skylight into the apartment.

Me, parting the blind, police cars out front, utterly trapped: What do we do? We can’t leave now.

You, authoritatively: We can leave in the morning.

You, pulling away the stockings covering our faces: Until then, let’s fuck.

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